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Identity Documents Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:43 am on 29th June 2010.

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Shami Chakrabarti: You are quite right, and I accept that that is what you are defending, but our fear, constitutionally and historically, was that it would not remain voluntary. The more people took it up—I am glad that they did not—the greater the push to move, in the end, to a compulsory scheme, because the greater use would only come in if everybody was required to carry the card.

On a multiplicity of identifiers leading to inequality, I want to clarify a point, because I do not think that people on poorer incomes should carry the “I’m on a low income card”, as you put it. The point that I think Dr Metcalfe and I were making is that if passports and driving licences are too expensive, and it is too hard to open a bank account, and so on, all those problems should be addressed. But I am not suggesting at all that there should be a special card for poor people and, as I hope you heard in my evidence on non-EU nationals, I do not want non-EU nationals to carry a card in-country either. While their visa is, we are told, now in card form, I would like to see legislation on the statute book to severely limit the purposes to which that card could be put and the purposes for which it could be required. My ambition in the future, and I think it ought to be the Government’s also, is to seek to negotiate a return to secure vignettes or stamps in passports, so that border control happens on the borders of this country, and not on the streets of Hackney.